Pizzas will have to shrink or lose their toppings under Government plans to cap calories in our favourite treats.
Proposals from Public Health England state pizzas should contain no more than 928 calories and pies should be at most 695 in an effort to tackle the UK’s obesity epidemic.
The ‘drastic’ guidelines will also apply to ready meals, sandwiches, cooking sauces, soups, burgers and processed meats.
This is part of the PHE’s target to reduce calorie counts in every day foods by 20 per cent.
It comes after figures yesterday revealed more than one in five children in the UK leave primary school carrying dangerous amounts of weight, while around 24,000 are ‘severely obese’.
Pizza sizes must be reduced to stop children getting obese, new recommendations state
Earlier this week, PHE officials met with retailers and food manufacturers including Domino’s pizza, Deliveroo, Just Eat, Mcdonalds and KFC to discuss introducing ‘calorie caps’ on food.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said the threat of obesity on childrens’ health has been ‘decades in the making’.
She added it is not enough for restaurants to simply offer healthier options, stressing obesity can only be tackled if the calorie content of foods is cut.
‘It could mean less meat on a pizza, it could mean less cheese, it could mean a smaller size,’ Dr Tedstone told The Telegraph.
‘We know that just having healthy options on the menu won’t change the nation’s habits – we need the default option to have fewer calories.
‘The default options for pizzas are margherita and pepperoni pizzas, so we need them to get healthier
Proposals on how to cut calories are in an early stage, with further measures due to be announced in the spring.
Discussions between PHE and food manufacturers over the coming months should help ‘feasible and achievable’ decisions to be made on how best to limit the public’s calorie consumption.
‘These are early days in the calorie reduction programme, but the food industry have a responsibility to act,’ Dr Tedstone added.
‘The simple truth is on average we need to eat less.
‘Children and adults routinely eat too many calories and it’s why we’ve seen severe obesity in 10 to 11-year-olds at an all time high.’
She added: ‘We hope to see early commitment from the food industry – including the people who make, sell and deliver our food – translated into real action, sooner rather than later.’
Under current plans, calorie limits will not be mandatory.
However, ministers have warned tougher steps are required after plans to cut sugar consumption led to a two per cent decrease rather than the target five per cent.
Public Health Minister Steve Brine said the Government will do whatever it takes to keep children health.
This comes after official figures showed record numbers of children are severely obese by the time they leave primary school.
Health experts described the rise in childhood obesity as a ‘catastrophe’.
The proportion of 10 and 11-year-olds who are overweight or obese has risen to 34.3 per cent – 197,888 children – compared with 31.6 per cent in 2016/17.
Latest data from the National Child Measurement Programme shows 4.2 per cent of Year 6 pupils in England were defined as severely obese, up from 3.6 per cent in 2016/17.
Some children were found to be eating 500 calories a day above the government recommendations of 1,650 calories for a boy of seven and 1,500 calories for a girl of the same age.
This may be because today’s children spend at least twice as much time eating out as those who grew up in the 70s, with one in five meals being consumed outside the home, previous research suggests.
The Government has previously pledged to halve childhood obesity rates by 2030.
Duncan Selbie, PHE’s chief executive, said excess calorie consumption is the food industry’s ‘next big challenge’.
In a statement released after the meeting, he added: ‘This is the promising start we need to succeed in reducing calories in the foods included in the programme by 20 per cent.’
Other efforts to tackle childhood obesity have included introducing calorie counts on menus, banning unhealthy food adverts before the 9pm watershed, and removing treats from checkouts and two-for-one deals.